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Archive for July, 2008

I just stumbled across a LOVELY website for people who make websites…clean, easy to read and navigate and full of useful information specially around web standards and best practices -> AListApart.com.

They also just published their 2nd survey for us web professionals which gathers data on who we are and how we work…check it out.

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Wow, I guess the Universe really does work in miraculous ways.

Through my blog stats, I discovered the CNN.com link and then I actually read the article.

I had been feeling confused and unsure about whether B did the right thing in telling the kids a bit about what happened between him and his ex. The cardinal rule in divorced families is never to bad-mouth the other parent. But what happens when the kids blame themselves or others inappropriately for the breakup? What happens when the truth is bad? And to tell it, you have to ‘bad-mouth’ the other parent?

Do you perpetuate the untruth in the name of protecting the kids? Or do you give them the truth, in the most unbiased way possible?

After a series of happenings in our house…(M thinking she had to stay with her Mom and not come to us because her Mom had no one and was lonely…M not understanding why Daddy, Mommy, Mommy’s friend and me could not all live under one roof – happily…both kids blaming me for the fact that their parents were not together, when it was their Mom who took another lover during the marriage, and them acting out with me severely because of that belief…the kids thinking ‘Daddy left them and their life’, when yes Daddy did leave but that was because Mommy was living with her lover under the same roof and he decided the healthier option was for him to leave)…B decided that the kids needed to learn some of the facts (as much as you can explain to a 6 and 8 year old anyway).

And so he told them:

  • How Mommy decided to love another woman and not Daddy anymore.
  • How Daddy moved to the basement to give Mommy and her new ‘friend’ some space and yet still be their Dad in every way possible.
  • How Dad eventually realised what a half existance that really was and that he needed to move on and start his own life.
  • How Daddy was paying for them and their Mommy all the time (while she played stay-at-home-mom) even though they didn’t know it.
  • How Dad found and met me – after Mommy and Daddy split and Mommy found her ‘friend’.
  • How we got married and moved closer to them so that he could be as much of a Dad to them as he could possibly be (he now has 50/50 custody).
  • How Mommy then decided that her new ‘friend’ was not good enough either (after the kids formed really strong bonds with her and were calling Mommy’s friend ‘Step-Mom’) and started loving another woman.
  • How first ‘friend’ moved to the basement (seeing a pattern yet?) and then finally moved out of the house.
  • How if Mommy was alone, it was through her own choosing. And how in fact she wasn’t as alone as they thought she was.

I think the kids were amazed. They had all sorts of questions about Mommy’s ‘friendships’ and we had to explain that although it doesn’t happen in all families that 2 Mommy’s can love each other the same way that husbands and wives can love each other. They wanted to know why their Mommy did not marry if she loved second ‘friend’ so much. So then we had to explain that marriage between 2 woman in our State was illegal. Things kids shouldn’t have to know about at such young ages.

All really tough stuff. The kids were ok though. I sensed relief from them that Daddy did not abandon them like they’d been allowed to believe.

I think he made one crucial mistake though. One of the kids asked him if he still liked Mommy. And he said no. They asked why. At that point he should have explained (IMO anyway) that sometimes people no longer like each other and relate it to their changing childhood relationships. But instead he said that he thinks she makes bad decisions. They latched onto that and threw that one specific statement back into their Mother’s face the next time they saw her.

Anyway, the point of this post was to say that in the CNN/Oprah article, Gary Neuman says there are times the cardinal rule HAS to be broken:

Gary says a parent needs to break the cardinal rule. “Children in these circumstances, we cannot have them feeling that they are somewhat responsible for the rejection from the parent who has abandoned them. So that’s the time when we have to say to our children, ‘It is wrong as a parent not to be there for your child.'”

I now see that in our case, the cardinal rule had to be broken. There were just too many misconceptions that were being perpetuated into the kid’s belief systems. I believe that healing can only happen in truth.

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Featured on CNN!

Holey moley!

My post “Speak to us of Children” has had hits directly from a CNN.com page! See http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/07/29/o.children.of.divorce/index.html.

The pages features an Oprah.com article entitled “Getting kids of divorce talking about secret thoughts” and down at the bottom of the page a section entitled “From the Blogs”. And there in broad daylight, my post “Speak to us of Children“.

Wow! Way cool 😉 Off to read the Oprah article now 🙂

My Post on CNN Page

My Post on CNN Page

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Last night hubby and I were sitting at the kitchen table and we heard the unmistakable sounds of a death cry. Uh oh, our huntress cat, Kati, was at it again!

So we go outside and see her stalking something in the bushes outside our back door. Scattering movement…and in the dark, I saw something scoot behind our trash cans. “Weird, it’s plump-ish, like a hamster. Ahhh…maybe it’s a baby rabbit?”. We eventually give up trying to rescue whatever it is, because it keeps scurrying away, which is understandable since Kati is still hunting and playing with it.

Settling down at the kitten table again, we hear the death cries again (more like squeals actually).

Baby Bunny being held and cuddled against me (Apologies for the bad photo. It was taken with Hubby's iPhone.)

Baby Bunny being held and cuddled against me (Apologies for the bad photo. It was taken with Hubby's iPhone.)

This time hubby goes out and he finds the most adorable baby rabbit ever, in the middle of our back yard lawn – Kati’s plaything. He brought him inside and I went all gooey over it. His one eye had a pin prick of blood on the lower edge and his one ear has a streak of blood, but other than that he seemed ok – stunned, but ok. So I cuddle him for a while, wrapping him in my t-shirt. He is so still, that I worried about whether he had internal injuries, but when hubby picked him up, he gives a good strong kick. So I think his stillness was just him settling into the comfort and warm of my t-shirt and hands. Awww…

Not sure what to do now that he was safe, we turned to trusty Google and we find the best advice is to remove any predators, aka cats, and return him to the yard. He still had a white patch on his head, which apparently meant he was young enough that he might still have been nursing, and wild rabbits are notoriously difficult to hand raise. So we put him back outside on the lawn, hoping he could find his nest and that he would be ok. And locked our cats inside.

Unfortunately, a little while later I went out the front to get the mail and Kati escaped! We tried catching her, but she was having none of it and disappeared. By this time the baby bunny had moved from his middle of the lawn spot too. We could do nothing, other than hope everything would be ok.

Well, this morning we found out that it was not ok. Kati found him. And ate his little ears and feet 😦

Now today I find myself looking at my sweet Kati and feeling this weird mixture of love and revulsion. She played with, then killed, then ate that sweet little baby bunny, who had snuggled in my hands just hours (or maybe even minutes) earlier. Oh, I know it’s just nature etc. But still, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Of course I cannot be mad at her, she was just doing what she knows. She will not change her behavior, nor can I expect her too. It is me who has to come to some kind of peace about it, not her.

It reminds me that we too are driven by natural instints. Instincts I don’t believe psychologists have even begun to truly understand. It reminds me that when people in my life act in ways I find repulsive or when I just don’t get them, that I cannot be mad at them and expect them to change. All I can do, is accept them for who they are, find compassionate love for them and set up boundaries for myself, to protect myself from their natural instincts.

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Let me apologize in advance as not all my readers will know of my back story and so this post might not make sense all the way.

Today I came across the poem by Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet called “Speak to us of Children”. And I listened as he spoke. And I was inspired.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
– Speak to us of children!

And he said:
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come trough you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-narrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

And now I find myself in terrifying waters! I just made tentative moves to break the tension between B’s ex and myself, agreeing to a meeting with the 3 of us, with the goal of talking through our issues. This is not because I like her and am secretly missing her (as if!). It’s because I think we will all parent more effectively in a cooperative environment instead of in a conflicting one and I think the kids will ultimately benefit from a united parental front (and so will the parents!). However, I am terrified that all I’ve worked for over the last year or so will just slip through my fingers in the name of ‘playing nice’. And I DO NOT want that to happen. But I also know how I can get. At my heart, I am a people pleaser and I often tend to forget all about my own needs. I then either burn out or grow more and more unconscious in my unhappiness and eventually explode with suppressed anger. Over the last year I have worked really hard to figure out what I want and to stand up for it, in spite of ‘politeness’. And I have really pissed her off in the process. And lived through it (gasp! Imagine that!). I’m scared I will let myself down and just let it all go. And all in the name of ‘co-operation’.

I think I need to write/blog/journal on this some more. Before we meet, I need to have figured out and written down:

  • What I want for myself out of my relationship with her (ie. I don’t want one with her, other than a kid-centric one. I want to be co-parents with her, not her buddy. I want respect for my role in her children’s lives.)
  • What I want for myself out of my relationship with the kids (ie. I do not want to be their Mom. I want to be a loved and respected, influential adult (maybe like a favored aunt) in their lives who can bring my own individual life’s experience to them – formal education, global cultures.)
  • What I want for my family (ie. B and the kids. That I want one. Which cannot happen if she interferes every few hours. She has been really good at this over the last 2 months and I’ve hardly heard a peep from her. I like it like this.)
  • What I want for the kids (ie. safety, stability, security – but most of all LOVE. And to make her understand that sometimes I will fight for it. Even if it means against her.)

I also want to say:

  • That I know and understand what she has given up – full time mothering. And that I know how hard it must be for her to watch another woman care for and love her children. And that I appreciate her life choices, which whilst I do not support them, have allowed me the opportunity to mother and that I realize what a gift that is.

I’m sure there is A LOT more I need to figure out before sitting down with her, but this is a good start.

Here’s the real question in all of this, how do I do this all? Without loosing ground? When I don’t trust her and most likely never will?

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Today from my Daily Kabbalah Tune Up email:

If you were to never buy a book on Kabbalah, or take a class online, or attend one of our live events or holidays, if you were only reading this one email and I had just this one chance to share with you a secret that would change your life, it would be this:

Like attracts like.

God, from a kabbalist’s perspective, is not a bearded man on a mountain top or a judgmental omnipotent being, but it’s a force of sharing and concern and love. When you quiet down your thoughts and step away from your feelings – and just radiate concern for others – you attain affinity with God.

And the moment you create this connection, you are tapping into this force. This is where fulfillment comes from.

That’s why love thy neighbor was the revelation of a technology, not a moral ideal!

Today, be God. Be thoughtful of what others are going through. Be happy for others’ happiness. Be kind to people for no good reason. Be the creative force you can be. Everything else will take care of itself.

I like it…”a force of sharing and concern and love”. That appeals much more to me that a bearded man on a mountain top, which unfortunately is the vision of God I came away with from my childhood days. And what a truly AWESOME concept. Like attracts like – technically, not morally. It fits in very well with karma, Hermetic Philosophy and The Secret.

I would add only one more other thing to this. Be kind to YOURSELF. It’s no good going round doing good for others whilst simultaneously having low self-esteem and self-hatred. Because that too will attract like. And your life will be in choas and you won’t understand why because “you’re doing all this good stuff and nothing good is happening”…ummmmm.

So today be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. And meditatively tap into the force.

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Africa Weeps

Sue’s Arty Farty Musings is a blog I follow on my RSS reader and although I don’t always have time to delve into it, I found I had some time this peaceful Sunday morning.

Her latest work, ‘Africa Weeping‘ is AWESOME!  Check it out.  I want me some 🙂  If I could afford it, that is.

These paintings so totally speak to my soul…tugging at my African Heritage heartstrings.

I don’t know if I’ve blogged about this before, but I feel guilty for leaving South Africa (I’ve been away for nearly 10 years now – wow!).  I feel that I profited growing up white in an apartheid South Africa, had privileges my fellow countryman did not, and all because my skin was white and not black.  And when it became tough to live in SA, when it became a struggle of life and death, I left.  Make no mistake, I still think it was the smartest move for me and my family.  Yet I feel guilty.  Like I should be giving back, putting back into the country I freely fed upon growing up, joining the struggle to make it a growing, prospering country again.  Sometimes I think about going back and my blood runs cold and fear for my life stops me.  Is that smart or selfish?  I oscillate between the two and haven’t yet found the happy medium.

This is what makes my current job the sweetest of ironies…I work for a historically black university here on the Eastern US seaboard.  This was purely unintentional of course, it just happened to be the job which fitted in my current lifestyle the best.  So now I find myself working back my karma, on US soil, in relatve safety, for a people who were historially disadvantaged not only here in the US but who were also violently and butally uprooted from their African homeland.  And I find that my guilt is slowing dissolving and the wounds healing.

Aint life strange sometimes.  And of course, even though it may appear otherwise, nothing is ‘just co-incidence’ 😉

No matter how many years I spend away from South Africa, I will always be African at heart and the African lanscape will always call to me.  I hope I’ll be able to have some of that landscape, so poignantly captured, in my home, bringing it just a tiny bit closer.

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